David G. Howe, Assistant District Attorney

Frank Carrubba, Supervising Deputy District Attorney
408-686-3608   For release on September 26, 2007   DISTRICT ATTORNEY FILES CHARGES RELATED TO STARTING RECENT WILDFIRE   The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has charged Margaret Pavese for her role in starting the “Lick Fire” on September 3, 2007.   Ms. Pavese will face one count of violating California Public Resources Code section 4446 which makes it a misdemeanor to fail to exercise reasonable care in the disposal of flammable materials so that the material does not cause the inception of spread of uncontrolled fire.  The section also prohibits a person from using an incinerator in specified areas without a permit and unless the incinerator meets certain fire safety standards.  A violation of this section is punishable by up to 6 months in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.  Restitution costs may also be imposed upon conviction.   It is believed that the wildfire began when Ms. Pavese used an incinerator or “burn barrel” to burn trash on her property.  As a result of the incinerator not meeting fire safety standards and also the manner in which it was used, the fire within the incinerator spread to adjoining dry grass and the surrounding area.  Ms. Pavese did not have a current permit for the use of the incinerator.   Assistant District Attorney David Howe stated that although the fire consumed many thousands of acres and cost millions of dollars to contain, felony arson charges were not supported by the evidence.  Ms. Pavese did not willfully and maliciously start the wildfire and she promptly informed fire officials of her involvement.   ###

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